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Tuesday 21 February 2017

Viktor Kovalenko brace helps Ukraine Under-21s edge out Northern Ireland

Published 17/11/2015 | 23:06

Accrington striker Shay McCartan opened the scoring for Northern Ireland Under-21s but they were ultimately overcome
Accrington striker Shay McCartan opened the scoring for Northern Ireland Under-21s but they were ultimately overcome

Viktor Kovalenko scored twice as Ukraine Under-21s came from behind to beat their Northern Irish opponents at Mourneview Park.

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Accrington striker Shay McCartan had given Jim Magilton's side the lead in the 54th minute, cutting inside on his left foot and powering a fine shot past Bohdan Sarnavskiy.

But the hosts were unable to protect their lead, with Shakhtar Donetsk forward Kovalenko winning it for his side with a nine-minute brace.

He shot across Conor Brennan after connecting with a defence-splitting pass in the 64th minute, then produced a superb volley on the run in the 73rd minute.

Gavin Whyte saw a headed effort cleared off the line with the scores level at 1-1 but in the end it was t he quality of Kovalenko, a £10million-rated prospect once linked with Liverpool, that made the difference on the night.

Brennan had done well to preserve the stalemate during the first half, making a handful of saves during a busy 45 minutes.

Cameron Dummigan, the Northern Ireland full-back, saw a late attempted equaliser well saved by Sarnavskiy meaning Magilton's team lie bottom of the standings in their Under-21 European Championship qualifying group with a single point from five outings.

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